Reports have surfaced confirming that the Chicago White Sox are still among the teams in the hunt for some of the top closer options available this winter.
You can count on just one hand how many blown saves now-free agent Alex Colome allowed in the past two seasons, but the club has turned their attention to a pair of names that could fill the closer void. The question isn’t which pitcher would be a mistake to sign, but instead, who would you rather see in a White Sox uniform in the ninth inning?
Brad Hand has pitched in the American League Central the past few seasons with the Cleveland Indians, but before that he spent time with the Florida/Miami Marlins as well as the San Diego Padres. The soon-to-be 31-year-old southpaw eclipsed the 100-save mark last season, shutting the door on 16 games to give him 105 for his career.
The Minnesota native has appeared in All-Star Games and logged a career-high 34 saves in 2019. Hand’s salary hovered around $7.6 million in 2020, and he received $1 million for 2021 prior to free agency. It is possible that he could get more than $7.6 million, so how high are the White Sox willing to go in negotiations?
Lastly, nicknames are of importance in sports. With that being said, Hand’s nickname is “Brotato”. Take that as you will.
Another big name the White Sox have interest in is Australian-born right-hander Liam Hendriks. The former Oakland Athletic turns 32 in February and will likely find himself on a new team for the first time since 2016. Hendriks made his debut as a starter in 2011 against the White Sox and threw seven innings of four-hit ball for the Minnesota Twins. After his stint in Minnesota, Hendriks spent time in Kansas City and Toronto before he landed in Oakland, where he found a closing role.
Hendriks didn’t record his first MLB save until 2017. He had just one save until 2019 when he locked down 25 games for the A’s. In 2020, the fiery hurler recorded 14 saves. Nicknamed “Slyda” — the Australian pronunciation of “slider” (his devastating breaking pitch) — Hendriks has become one of the most feared closers in the American League. His salary was $5.3 million in 2020, more than double what he earned in 2019. Just like Hand, it is logical to assume that Hendriks would yield more than his earnings from last season.
With a team like the White Sox, closing options like this are always endless. The club could elect to put an offer on the table for one of these names or promote from within and use arms that have excelled during the club’s rebuilding process. As a fan, who would you like to see the Sox give the closing job to? Would you prefer the team go and get a name in free agency? While we await the conclusion of this scenario, be sure to follow Sox On Tap on Twitter for content related to your favorite team.